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Microscope for a home yeast lab?

Anyone here nerdy enough to do this? I think I want to be but have no clue where to begin. Just curious on what upfront cost one might be looking at.

I’ve read a tinny bit about the process and am intrigued but really don’t know much so I was thinking about picking up a book on yeast. Any input would be appreciated.

To be honest, as a Clinical Lab Scientist, who used to work in Mycology. I do not see what you plan on gaining by using a microscope. Most species of yeast can only be differentiated using biochemical test, and there are difference in the way SOME yeast species look on the microscope slide, but they are not definative because Microorganisms really do not behave nice in the real world. IE they are suppose to act one way, look like this, but often because they are alive do not conform to the rules. I think you would be greatly disapointed in spending the money on a microscope for your home. Also good clinical objectives cost 10,000-50,000. PM if you have any other questions.

I was reading a post on another forum about a guy who does it to do cell counts and then stains to check for viability rates for repitching harvested yeast. I know, totally unnecessary right? But it sounds cool, and I always enjoyed this kind of stuff back in highschool and college. Not really looking for differentiating between my strain and any potential wild strains because as you point out, and I think the other post did as well, that sounds too daunting a task for a homebrewer.

What I gathered, you need a scope with 400x to be able to get a good look and count what’s there with a Hemocytometer and I was just wondering if something like the $75-150 student geared scopes would get the job done. ... pe-273342/

Just in case you were curious here’s a link to that.

I dont think the above poster understands what your driving at Mpls.
10,000 dollar analysis is way off base to what he is asking- guy with the heavy reply. I also notice you seem to be a country wine/ mead person is this why his question blows past you? “I do not see what you plan on gaining by using a microscope.” This alone alerts me to the fact that you dont see the benefits from an all grain brewers point of view.

Also “Most species of yeast can only be differentiated using biochemical test” is simply not true when speaking to brewing yeasts only ( we are not out to class 100,000 species )and irregardless this is not what the OP is looking to do with a microscope. He is looking to simply perform cell counts, gram staining and identification of common beer spoilage bacteria and wild yeast which despite your comment “Microorganisms really do not behave nice in the real world. IE they are suppose to act one way, look like this, but often because they are alive do not conform to the rules” can indeed be reliably identified by small/large scale brewers as exhibited by far too many brewing scientists over the past 100+ years since L. Pasteur as a reference point for you.

Mpls, You are simply thinking about a few quality things as a advancing home brewer and its well within reason if you have the resources, talent and interest.

I am not going to go into detail here as their are too many journals written on this subject for all brewers to perform in routine operations if they feel a need or should be practiced by larger commercial brewers and if home brewers like Jamil or others had a basic interest just like this and in turn published books about the exact subject for small scale brewers and home brewers to follow well why not.
P.S. wine guy this home brewer recently new micro brewer just mentioned made a yeast pitching rate calculator from his studies and this is a key tool for today’s quality minded home brewer and he is just one of many making use of technology. See:

There are many low cost ways to get to the bottom of what Mpls is looking to do. P.S. I will PM you some quality info Mpls.

Btw, wine guy here is just one example to what a brewer is seeking to do just to update your knowledge base of what and why, dont misunderstand me as being aggressive here I think my reply is warranted as this forum is meant for positive flow of information and you just interjected negative misinformation about a topic you dont know as exhibited. Mpls you may find this a good info source also. ... allen.html ... allen.html ... allen.html ... allen.html

Mpls, unfortunately the fourth article in this series is not available to the public but would have been nice seeing the name of the last article was titled "The Microbrewery Laboratory Manual - Part IV: Buying a Light Microscope " but along with what I sent you their are plenty of good sources of info on finding an inexpensive one. I “borrowed” one from a buddy that is more than I could of hoped to find for cheap so I stopped my search years ago.

“Not really looking for differentiating between my strain and any potential wild strains because as you point out, and I think the other post did as well, that sounds too daunting a task for a homebrewer.”

When I go back and reread the thread again, ^THIS is why the misinformation provided is dangerous as it scares people away from something that is actually really simple to do when the topic at hand is well understood by the member replying and ANY comments made only if you understand the topic being discussed.

Sure as a mycology scientist you understand microscopes, But does that mean you also understand what the OP’s topic revolves around IE: brewing science?. The absence of the key knowledge is why its best to refrain if not clearly understood as you do more harm than good as displayed by the OP latching on to your well meaning but misinformed post.

Thanks for all the info. I was just a little bored the other day and looking at that posting which I found to be really interesting. Not really something I want to jump into right away but a little curiosity never hurt anyone. I had found another posting about freeze saving yeast so I decided to give that a try and have three vials in a cooler in my freezer right now and thought that cell counting like they were doing could be useful for repitching this yeast.

For counting yeast you’ll need a hemacytometer slide. They can run $50-100.

Yes, the method and other etc…(such as needing the hemacytometer) is touched on in the links provided above.
It might go without saying but this is not a side of brewing for every single brewer out there and the great majority will do just fine using well made starters using mr malty’s calculator and sound cleaning and sanitation regiment.

For the few that do this post is meant to encourage and the following "if you have the resources, talent and interest."already speaks to the costs involved. Microscopes and other needed for this operation are not penny items.

This operation is mainly meant for the 10-100bbl + brewer as topics of microbiological controls within the brew house as a whole start to become big time balance sheet issues. So if a home brewer wishes to venture outside the box and has cash to do so there are easy resources to learn about this side of brewing these days without taking a college course/s.

I use the following to get a reasonable count of my yeast: There are about 4.5 billion yeast cells in 1 milliliter of yeast solids (solids with no excess liquid). This is based on good fairly fresh yeast that has not been stressed from a high gravity fermentation. If my yeast is not very old and not fremented above 1.060 then I figure vialability at around 75-80%. I multiply that percentage by the above count to estimate the amount of viable cells I have in a ml. By all accounts and fermentations, I have found this method of counting to be fairly accurate. I too freeze yeast. I use 250 ml vials so that I have plenty of room and I usually freeze 100+ ml of heathy yeast in my glycerin/water mixture and keep it in my NON frost free freezer. This way, when I use my frozen yeast I am starting with close to the same amount as if I had bought a new tube or smack pack. I have never had a problem with waking up, and growing my yeast on my stir plate to my desired volume, after up to a year or more of hibernating in the freezer. Hope this helps as it has served me well.

You can get nice ones on eBay for quite cheap

Well I got my microscope. It’s a super old vintage one but it seems to work and it was free. It has a 10x eye piece with two basic 10x and 43x lenses and then a 90x oil immersion one. I guess I’ll start out with some basic cheap slides just to make sure I can view yeast cells with a good degree of clarity and then if all goes well I’ll toss down $50 or so for the hemacytometer and a little more a pippette and some stain.

Once again, I realize all this is fairly unnecessary for homebrewing and birdstop’s simple calculations were great but I’m a bit of a wannabe nerd.

Have a great time yeast ranching mplsbrewer!!! One can never be too nerdy in this hobby.

I don’t think so. If you’re repitching slurries then it’s a small investment that will pay for itself in terms of the quality of your beer. That’s true whether you’re a home brewer or pro brewer.

Have fun with your new toy.

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